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"Competent, Caring and Responsive"

Overcoming Instinctual Responses to Family Strife

family conflict resolution

Deep down, all human beings are essentially animals.  We’ve been given the gift of sentience and self-awareness, but we’re still ruled, in many ways, by deep primitive instincts – like the Fight or Flight Response.  When faced with any potentially dangerous or difficult situation, every human being chooses either to stand their ground or to run away.  While this is a handy instinct when confronted by, say, a hungry bear in the wilderness, it’s not always the ideal way to handle a personal crisis with your spouse or other family member.  In those situations it’s important to remember that you have more than two choices: You can fight – literally, or through a divorce; you can flee (by ignoring the problems or refusing to deal with them); or, you can mediate.


Not Instinctual

Mediation is often a difficult decision to make between people, for the simple reason that mediation isn’t an instinctual response.  We often think in terms of punishing our partners or running away from our problems, but the more complex, more civilized approach of working through the problems with a trained mediation professional and seeking a cooperative solution to your problems requires getting past the instincts and entering a higher plane of thought.  This can be a challenge, because nothing feels more honest and normal than our instinctual reactions to things – but as we don’t live in the wilderness anymore, but rather in civilization, those instincts can often be more destructive than helpful.


Leaving Fight or Flight Behind

However, simply agreeing to pursue mediation still isn’t enough.  Often people are still in the throes of their fight or flight response, and try to use mediation as simply a new battleground for the fight.  Mediation is not a place to air grievances and attack each other – it’s a more complex and sophisticated response to problems, and requires that both parties leave their weapons behind and concentrate solely on a cooperative solution.

Sometimes people even turn their fight-or-flight instincts on the mediator, transferring their anger and frustration to them.  This will also doom the process to failure.  Understanding our instincts and how they often control our lives is a key part of a successful mediation.

We often can’t avoid an initial instinctual reaction.  The key isn’t to think that we can alter our subconscious and natural reactions to things, but rather than we learn to let them run their course, take a deep breath, and then pursue a more civilized course of action.

Knowing What To Expect in Mediation for Divorce

divorce and child custody mediationEven when there are only a few issues to discuss in your divorce mediation, the process can be lengthy and complex. Knowing what you can expect and how you should prepare can be helpful in reducing your anxiety about your upcoming family law mediation.

In some states, mediation happens with parties in separate rooms. In Idaho, most divorce and child custody mediation proceedings have both parties in the same room with their attorneys. Before the agreement is submitted to the court, it is typically reviewed by the attorneys. For this reason, retaining legal counsel that you are confident in and comfortable with can go a long way. Mediation is a different atmosphere than litigation, but you may still feel more at ease with an experienced attorney at your side.

 You should be prepared to share information with the other party and his or her attorney. This is so that the mediation can move forward as effectively as possible and so that you can work together towards reaching a settlement. Although mediation is an informal process, you should be prepared with any documentation in advance so that you can make the most of the meetings. Mediation sessions typically allow for your family law issue to be resolved much more quickly than litigation, but since you also play a bigger role in mediation, you need to be prepared to provide documentation and discuss issues each time you enter a session.

 Anything said during the mediation process is confidential unless it leads to a written settlement. This atmosphere tends to make many people feel more comfortable. You should be open and willing to suggesting different ideas or settlement offers without fear of being persecuted for them. Those offers remain confidential with the ultimate goal being a constructive conversation that leads everyone involved to a mutual settlement.

 Compromise is a critical factor in mediation. You and the other party don’t have to be involved in a stalemate to benefit from mediation, but you should be willing to discuss options and make some sacrifices in the name of resolving the issue. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you could end up in litigation anyways, which just takes more time and money from you. Mediation is most appropriate for situations where the parties are willing to talk options over and make compromises to get to a final settlement agreement.

David A. Johnson has been providing quality legal services in East Idaho. As both a private attorney and as a former Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney, Mr. Johnson has substantial courtroom experience. Mr. Johnson has handled cases all over the State of Idaho. His primary areas of practice are in Bonneville, Bingham, Butte, Jefferson, Madison, Fremont Bannock and Jefferson Counties. In addition, to Idaho Falls, we serve residences in the Blackfoot, Shelley, Firth, Rigby, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Ashton, Ammon, Driggs and Victor, Idaho. [Read more..]